Hamilton in nail-biter to win All-Star outfield spot

Hamilton in nail-biter to win All-Star outfield spot

Hamilton in nail-biter to win All-Star outfield spot
ARLINGTON -- Josh Hamilton's chances of being in the American League All-Star outfield for a fourth straight year have gone down to the wire.

Hamilton continues to maintain a narrow lead over Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury for the final spot in the AL starting lineup for the All-Star Game in Phoenix on July 12.

In the latest All-Star voting update, issued Tuesday, Hamilton has received 3,173,000 votes, putting him in third place among AL outfielders behind Jose Bautista (5,263,840) of the Blue Jays and Curtis Granderson (4,582,419) of the Yankees. Ellsbury is fourth with 3,051,675 votes.

Over the past two weeks, Hamilton's lead over Ellsbury has gone from 351,624 to 151,085 to 121,325.

That is the tightest race in the AL All-Star voting. Hamilton, who missed six weeks with a fractured bone in his right arm, goes into the Rangers' three-game series with the Astros hitting .293 with 23 runs scored, seven home runs and 35 RBIs in 41 games. He has a .353 on-base percentage and a .515 slugging percentage. Ellsbury, who has played in 77 games, is hitting .303 with 55 runs scored, nine home runs, 39 RBIs, a .365 on-base percentage and a .461 slugging percentage.

Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or via a mobile device -- using the 2011 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Sprint until Thursday at 10:59 p.m. CT.

Rosters will be announced during the 2011 All-Star Game Selection Show on TBS on July 3. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the 2011 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint.

Fans will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet at the Midsummer Classic via the 2011 All-Star Game MVP Vote Sponsored by Sprint.

The All-Star Game, to be played in Phoenix on July 12, will be televised nationally by FOX and around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio play-by-play, while MLB.com will offer extensive online coverage.

Fans determine the starting position players for each league, including the designated hitter in the AL. The players voted last weekend on nine reserves at each position. They also voted on five starters and three relievers for the pitching staff. Seven players will be chosen by AL skipper Ron Washington of the Rangers and the last player will be selected by Final Vote.

Michael Young, after an early lead, is more than two million votes behind David Ortiz at DH, and Adrian Beltre is more than 800,000 votes behind Alex Rodriguez at third base. Second baseman Ian Kinsler and shortstop Elvis Andrus are third at their positions, first baseman Mitch Moreland is fourth and catcher Yorvit Torrealba is fifth.

Hamilton would be only the second Rangers player to start in at least four consecutive All-Star Games. Catcher Ivan Rodriguez started in nine straight.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.